Fae Apoc, approx. now.
Content Warnings: This setting, although not this ficlet, contains rape, mind control, and dubious consent situations.
This particular story contains kidnapping and slavery, bondage, violence, and will eventually contain Stockholm Syndrome.
Dinner went quietly. Mieve was exhausted, and she imagined her new slave was as well. He ate slowly and steadily, spoon to mouth, scooping up the rice-and-beans she had made wordlessly, sipping the beer she set in front of him, not looking like he was tasting any of it.
He was watching her cautiously between bites, like he was trying to figure her out. That expression Mieve was used to. Most of the Kept she’d brought had that look in their face for at least a while. She kept her face neutral and non-threatening. Not that she probably wouldn’t have to hurt him again before he settled, but she wasn’t going to hurt him now. Hopefully.
They finished dinner in silence, with no catastrophes and no arguments. Mieve cleared the table, loading the dishes into a sink of hot soapy water.
Even with her back turned, she could hear when he pushed his chair back, when he stood up, and when he sat back down again, remembering, she assumed, that he was tethered to the floor. He cleared his throat. “I could — I could help with that.”
She hadn’t expected that. “If you do the dishes,” she said, thinking it through quickly. No knives in reach. There was another chain-loop by the sink. The skillet could be a weapon, but not a threat; you couldn’t hold a frying pan to someone’s throat. “If you get the dishes all done and put away, that gives me time to make a dessert.” She turned the oven on to pre-heat. It was a pity she didn’t trust him to use Words; he might have the right one to refill her propane tanks.
She used a thread of telekinesis to unlock his tether from the floor bolt and waited for him as he stood, looking surprised and cautious. “Just like that?”
“I like dessert, too, and I hate doing dishes. Why do you think I bought a slave, anyway?”
He nearly stopped walking; she could see the way his shoulders hitched. “Fuck you, lady.”
“Does that mean you don’t want to do the dishes?” She was level-voiced and calm; being sworn at might irritate her but it wasn’t going to break her stride.
“…Fuck it. You going to share that dessert?”
“Then I’ll do the damn dishes.” It was a small kitchen; it didn’t really give him room to stomp, but he stomped the two steps to the sink anyway. Mieve relocked his tether and ignored him. There were apples to peel, there was pastry to roll.
“…Did you really buy a slave just to have someone to do your dishes?”
“Yes, of course I did.” She sliced the apples into broad chunks. “I bought a slave just for the dishes.” She dripped sarcasm into every word, and then regretted it. “No, but in a sense, yes. I need help with the farm. Firewood. Plowing. Hunting.” Not that she’d trust him with a weapon any time soon.
“Hunh. Why not hire someone – no, never mind.” He shook his head. “Makes sense.” He was washing slowly now, watching her. “What happened to your last Kept? You had one, didn’t you?”
“I freed him.” She’d had four, here in this cottage. “I Kept him for a year and a half and then I freed him.”
“Hunh. Wasn’t working out?”
She shook her head. “No, we got along all right. But a year and a half covers the cost of his purchase in terms of work, and people… people shouldn’t be collared for the long-term without getting a chance to decide that for themselves.”
“Hunh.” He thought about that, or at least was quiet, while he washed the last of the dishes. Mieve cut the rest of the apples and tossed everything in a bit of cinnamon she still had left. “I’m still not going to Belong to you.”
“It’ll be a long year and a half in the gag and leash.” She poured in a bit of honey and a bit of maple syrup. “Promise me you won’t use Workings?”
“No fucking way.”
“Promise me you won’t run off?”
“No way in fucking hell.”
She rolled out the crust and fitted it into her pan. “Promise me you won’t attack me?”
“It’s going to be a long year and a half then.” She poured the filling into the pie shell, making sure to get every drop. “But I think you knew that.”
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